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Monday, January 25, 2016

Home on the Range

Be on the lookout for some escaped American Bison who are apparently fond of Chicken.  Our groomer John said there are about 8 Bison roaming in or near the ski area.  Anyone want to volunteer to clean up after them?

John did a lot of grooming today, pushing down all the new snow (!) and laying down fresh skate AND classic track all over the place.  Hamlin is the only exception to that, and we are trying to rally troops to get that taken care of soon.

Also, the USFS is burning the big slash piles from the recent logging activity on the northeastern leg of the Lower Little Bauer Loop, so beware of that activity.  Take the new cutoff if you wish to avoid smoke inhalation.

John wins solo groomer of the month honors, so please leave him the prime parking spot in the lot.  He put in about 5 total hours today.  Thank him if you see him...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Updated Map Redux

I just wanted to re-post this map as it is the most up-to-date. Click on image to expand.

Quick Update

Fresh snow falling at the moment, and the forecast is for a bit of accumulation.  Should be just about enough to resurface the area, cover up the pine cones and needles and dog mess.  The area got re-groomed with new classic track set yesterday - Saturday - thanks to John.  Thanks, John.

So conditions ought to be very good, with a bit of fresh stuff on top.  We're working on lining up more grooming activity to follow the snow with, so please stay tuned.  Hank and Phil relocated the Polaris machine to and from the repair shop, and now we're back to 3/4 strength with the machines.  That all takes time, and John spent 3.5 hours grooming Saturday.  Total effort since the last blog entry from volunteers is 5.75 hours.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Friendly Reminder

Chicken-in-the-Sky asked me to relay the following:
  • The track is groomed for skiers.  Period.
  • Walkers are not welcome.  Ditto for bikes.
  • Snowshoe walkers please stay to the extreme edge of the track, or - preferably - completely off the groomed track.
  • Control your dog.  Please.  And fling the dog poo off the track.
  • If you are skiing while grooming is taking place, please move completely off the track to allow the groomer access to whatever part of the trail he is trying to groom.
Alright, the scolding is over.  For now.  Please understand an enormous amount of time and effort goes into grooming the track.  Be respectful of the primary users - the ones who fund and maintain the ski track.  Uses other than skiing degrade the groomed surface quickly.  Thank you for your understanding.

The outer Bauer Loop got groomed this evening, as did all the upper terrain.  Rush Creek and Hamlin Loops are in superb condition, as is the Chicken Creek Road.  We had a mechanical issue which means the Bauer Loops did not see as much grooming action as we planned.  Additional grooming on the lower loops is planned for tomorrow (Tuesday).

John and Peter B put in 6 hours grooming, plus blog writing and donation collection for a grand total for the day of 7 hours.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


A late afternoon skate was everything a person could hope for; Low-angle light sneaking in through the ponderosa, the thrum of some pre-storm wind, red-shafted flickers bobbing on the wing, chattering squirrels scolding my technique, and sweet sweet fresh corduroy laid down by my friends Peter R and Phil.  'Nuf said.

Me thinks everything up there saw the groomer's touch today.  I know Rush got classic track set and I'm thinking Hamlin did as well.  I ran out of daylight so I'm not sure.  If I'm wrong someone tell me and I'll revise this.  Conditions were bordering on obscenely good.  I was fortunate enough to get some first tracks up there and it was truly sublime.

Groomer time today was 9.5 hours, Joan did bookkeeping for 1.75 hours for a total of 11.25 hours today.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Oh Guano!

Some naughty individuals were riding their Fat Bikes on the trails Tuesday night.  For now we'll just assume they were uninformed (though the night-time commando-style nature of their visit would seem to argue otherwise).  As invested readers of this blog and committed xc skiers, I ask you to please gently inform any bikers you may see up there to look elsewhere for their sport.  Boggy Draw now has trails groomed specifically for bikes.  Transfer and Echo Basin both sport many miles of groomed track where bikes are welcome and encouraged.  As the person who last groomed prior to the incursion, I can tell you it was quite disheartening to see the damage to the trail today, both from their tires and their shoes.  I would not want to have to face Chicken-in-the-Sky for this kind of infraction.

Our season is short, the grooming is difficult and expensive; come on - please give it a rest.  Thank you.

Meanwhile, as I mentioned, Bauer Loops got a touch-up on Tuesday afternoon.  With any luck, all the trails will get a tune-up tomorrow as things are getting a bit crusty from the snow blowing down from the pondos.

Today we took a machine for a tune-up and a new starter cord, which involves trailers and time and effort.  additionally at this time I am documenting the volunteer time Joan spent writing grant applications at 9 hours, as well as her time writing receipts for those donating by check - another 2.5 hours.  All that adds up to 16.5 hours of volunteer labor.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Where's Fred?

Imagine the disappointment of the little children and their parents when Fred - the man on the cover of the Durango Telegraph - failed to show over the weekend, leaving dozens of folk in serious sweater withdrawal.  I mean that sweater is the bomb.  I have a lot of sweaters, including some nice ones, and none are in the same league as Fred's.  Seriously.

The actual snow itself however, left no room for disappointment.  So my feeling was people were able to overcome their initial let down and make the best of it after all.  Another full parking lot; cold crisp air; very cold snow (squeaky); amazing blue skies, yada yada.

The grooming report:
  • We now have classic track set on several of the loops - plenty of terrain for the diagonal stride skiers.
  • The Hamlin Loop and the CC Road to the turnaround are now groomed.  They were a bit soft initially after the groom, but ought to firm up nicely with the bitter cold overnight.
  • Only one machine failed to function today (which represents a kind of victory).
Groomers Brad and Peter R braved the cold temps to deliver some gorgeous corduroy.  Thank you, gentlemen.

Sadly, the huge uptick in usage has not corresponded to a commensurate increase in trailhead donations.  Believe me, the Chicken-in-the-Sky will sort all this out one day.  But there's still time to get right with your groomer.  Here's how:  Send a big fat check right away to-

Chicken Creek Nordic
PO Box 111
Mancos, CO 81328

Brad and Peter R put in 8.5 hours today, gas fetching and delivery, blog writing, etc totaled another 1.5 hours for an even 10 hours.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Everyone Loves Chicken. Especially Frozen.

The Chicken Creek parking lot hasn't been this full all year.  Enthusiasm was running high today with plenty of dogs, kids, moms, dads and assorted random never-seen-before people skiing and smiling and generally having a good time.  Some were even wearing shorts.  But hey, it was at least 20 degrees out.  Way too warm for pants!  My old guy metabolism doesn't allow for that kind of hi-jinx anymore, but I'm not bitter about it.  Really.  Thanks for the picture Kelly and Tom.

Conditions were superb up there today; cold and fast.  Tomorrow ought to bring more of the same.  Unless I'm mistaken, this is shaping up to be the best winter for about 7 years.  We're getting plenty of snow and cold, just like winter.  Go figure.  Thank you, Chicken-in-the-Sky!  Enough of that.  Here's what happened grooming-wise at the area today:
  • All of the Bauer Loops got groomed before and after the big rush, so tomorrow ought to be simply outstanding.  Again.
  • Rush Connector and the entire Rush Creek Loop was also groomed and ought to firm up nicely with tonight's cold weather.
  • Hamlin Loop and the CC Road to the turnaround both got trackpacked in preparation for grooming soon.
  • Ray from Valley Repair in Mancos came up on his day off and got the Yamaha machine running, and he generously donated his time for the effort.  Thank you Ray.
So today's groomfest happened thanks to the efforts of Phil A. and Peter B. who toiled for 9.5 hours, inhaling nasty fumes and inflicting permanent  hearing loss on their poor little ears.  Well, mine aren't particularly petite.  And they're getting hairy too.  Gross.  So counting time to pick up and deliver gasoline, service the machines, write the blog, coordinate groomage and assorted bookkeeping responsibilities (thanks Joan)  today's volunteer tally is 11.75 hours.

Friday, January 8, 2016

We're Famous

Did you see the front page of yesterday's Telegraph?  Fred flying by in that awesome snowflake sweater, simply superb.  And there's a 2 page photo spread inside.  Mancos makes the Map!
Click here to see...

Anyway, a whole lot of work got done up there today in an effort to sweeten things up for the weekend warriors in the crowd.  We're back down to 2 working machines (don't ask) but we can get plenty done with them.  Today:
  • All of the Little Bauer Loops got packed and rolled
  • Rush Connector got packed with some roller action
  • Rush Creek Loop got packed and a single pass with the roller
Tomorrow: who knows?  We'll see what happens.  We're learning not to count our chickens before they hatch.  In a perfect poultry planet world we'd get Rush, Hamlin, and the CC Road to the turnaround rolled in.

Brad paid us a visit in a snow-cat today(!), pulling me out of the ditch and bringing one of the non-functional machines down from the top of the area, where it stalled out yesterday for reasons unknown.  Allen, Peter R, Joan and Peter B all rescued a buried Bearcat, then did a bunch of snow packing and rolling.  Total volunteer labor on the day 24.75 hours.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Not Just Chicken Scratch

Ten inches of new snow on the upper reaches of the area.  Tom and Chris from the USFS were instrumental in getting things tracked out today.  If you see those guys, please say thanks.  Please.  And Thanks.

Bauer Loops got rolled this afternoon and ought to set up nicely overnight.  We were grooming Rush Creek when one machine got stuck and the other conked out.  We'll be trying to get things rolling again in the morning.

I put up a modified version of our map yesterday.  It's the blog entry cryptically titled "Updated Map."  Not sayin' it's perfect, and I'm open to suggestion.  I think it's better than what we had up though.  Let me know through comments.

Time spent grooming and picking up/dropping off machines, and sundry work totals 13.5 hours.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Updated Map

More snow; more snowmobiles, more grooming, More Skiing!

For those of you who approve of grooming, I have good news.  The Bauer Loops and the Rush Creek Loop both got groomed today.  Even better, we got our most powerful grooming machine back from repairs today.  Tomorrow it may sound like a swarm of giant mosquitoes up there with as many as 5 or 6 machines making noise and packing down snow.  No, we do not own that many machines.  We are getting help from the Forest Service to re-open the Hamlin Loop, plus we'll have as many as three of our own machines out there.

This storm system is a bit on the warm and wet side, but as it leaves the cold moves in.  So we may get to hold on to all this fresh snow for a while.  Call me Pollyanna, but me thinks this is all good.

I know, I know.  We need an up-to-date map for people new to the area.  We're working on that now.  The trail maps are a bit outdated (not quite Anasazi-era, but still lacking in freshness.  Oh, and accuracy) and seem to be causing some confusion.  Sorry about that.

John and Phil groomed today, Peter and Phil shuttled snowmobiles around on trailers, and Peter wrote emails, made phone calls, took care of assorted business, etc.  Total volunteer labor donation for the day comes in at 12.75 hours.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Soggy Feathers

Your somewhat soggy blogger got rained on on both the Rush Creek trail and the Chicken Creek Road up by the turnaround.  The forecast is for this to turn to snow, which is fortunate for our purposes.  If all goes well, grooming efforts will commence tomorrow, intensify on Thursday, and taper off with the storm's departure Fri/Sat.

Although nothing got groomed today, two important events unfolded critical to our grooming efforts:
  1. Our roller repair was completed.  The poor thing was pretty battered and required 3 separate repairs, all of which are now finished.  Thank you Tom and Bryce from the Forest Service for your help.  Big kudos also to Hank and our good friend Michael Nusser for their big help in getting the bearing replaced.
  2. Our most powerful machine will come out of the repair shop tomorrow morning (Wednesday) and not a moment too soon.  Thanks again to Dustin and Ray at Valley Repair in Mancos for their knowledgeable and timely service on that machine.
Peter, Hank and Michael toiled on the roller for 3.25 hours today.  Then there was phone and computer work at 1.75 hours to bring today's total to 11 hours.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Elk Love Chicken Too!

There are elk tracks all over the Little Bauer Loops, which is pretty darn cool.  Generally they are quite respectful of the groomed track and simply cross over.  If you see one up there, tell it "thanks" from all us groomers.

Thursday we will be getting help from our good friends at the USFS to re-open the Hamlin Loop, some of out best terrain (in my humble opinion).  Chris, Bryce, and Tom will be out in force machine-packing the deep snow we received from the last storm.  Thank you, gentlemen.

Bauer Loops got a brushing up today, as things were getting pretty crusty with a couple warmish days in the mix.  More snow on the way means we will be out in all the force we can muster over the next several days keeping the snow packed down.

Right now it looks very good that we will get more fresh snow over several days.  We will see you out there, having fun in the snow.

Please send your donations to:
Chicken Creek Cross Country
PO Box 111
Mancos, CO 81328
OR, drop some green paper in the green donation box!

5 hours volunteer time today; grooming, visiting repair shop, electrical repairs to Yamaha, coordinating groomage, writing blog entry, etc.